Her Story: The Short(er) Version
Barbara Gail is an alchemist in the arts of rhythm & movement. She & her husband, Jeff Hanna, together own & operate The Rhythm Inlet & The Ukulele Place in Nokomis, Florida. It’s an ever-evolving musical instrument store of hand-drums, percussion, & ukuleles, & a teaching venue offering a full menu of classes, events, community programs, & special guest artists from around the world.
From 1995 to 2012 The Rhythm Inlet was located in Mt. Vernon, Maine, & included a full-sized workshop studio called The Space, where Barbara produced countless drum & dance programs. In 2003 they branched out to include Southwest Florida, continued The Rhythm Inlet seasonally in the 2 locations for several years, gradually settling year-round in Nokomis.
A vibrant performer & presenter, Barbara’s an accomplished hand-drummer, dancer, percussionist, children’s edu-tainer, SpiritSinger, & well-seasoned facilitator of group drum & dance experiences, from the ceremonial, to the celebratory. She’s appeared in several hundred venues, including schools, libraries, camps, conferences, retreats, festivals, churches, synagogues, parks, assisted living & memory care establishments, private homes, community centers, professional associations & non-profit organizations. She’s been affectionately referred to as a Rhythm Ambassador & a Pied Piper of Rhythm.
Specializing in spreading the joys of rhythm & movement, hand-drumming & dance, to people of all ages, abilities & challenges since 1993, her original & dynamic programs have provided high quality, memorable, spirited & empowering experiences to thousands of people of all ages & diverse populations, in various educational, recreational, & therapeutic settings.
A well-versed instructor, natural leader, & teacher’s teacher, her background in the performing & visual arts gives her the unique ability to communicate in an entertaining way & create visually aesthetic presentations.
She holds a B.A. in Education with a Minor in Dance from Hampshire College, is 200-hour Yoga Certified, is a Certified & Licensed Instructor of Kidding Around Yoga™ for children, & has achieved advanced certifications in JourneyDance™.
A lifelong spiritual seeker, Barbara is inspired by her ancestry as a descendant of Kohain High Priests & Rabbis. She is ordained by the Universal Life Church as Minister & Priestess, leading drum, dance, & song in ceremonial settings.
As a world traveler who’s hungry for learning & experiences, her primary influential teachers with whom she studied extensively are the late Gabrielle Roth, & the late Layne Redmond. Other major influences include Reinhard Flatischler, Ubaka Hill, the late Barry Bernstein, & Marianne Wells. All of these remarkable teachers are international pioneers in their work bringing forward rhythm & movement as tools for awakening consciousness.
For Barbara there is no separation of who she is & what she does, & the awards that have acknowledged this joyful service in her life include Higher Calling, Business of the Year, Woman of the Year, & Favorite Children’s Program.
Her Story: The Full Evolution Version
Barbara Gail is an alchemist in the arts, & has been spreading the joys of rhythm & movement, hand-drumming & dance to people of all ages, abilities & challenges, professionally since 1993. A natural leader, teacher’s teacher, & experienced “edu-taining” artist who’s brought her original programs to over 350 venues, has been affectionately called a Rhythm Ambassador & Pied Piper of Rhythm. Her background in the performing & visual arts gives her the unique ability to communicate in an entertaining way, & create visually aesthetic presentations.
In 1986 Barbara earned her BA in Education with a Minor in Dance from Hampshire College. With a multicultural lens, she focused on the role of the creative arts in children’s experiential learning, as a tool for adults in their personal evolution, & in the social transformation of culture. This launched a lifelong journey into the world of the educational, recreational, & therapeutic aspects of rhythm, music, movement, dance, & body-mind wellness, for enrichment of the individual, relational healing, & group unity.
The Djembe & Jeff
Being musical & dancerly all her life, Barbara picked up the djembe naturally, beginning with lessons in Maine (thank you, John McDowell) in May of 1988. This happened to be the same month she met her her partner in life & work, Jeff Hanna, on the dance floor! She attended djembe classes & workshops on & off for several years. At that time she had no idea the drum was her future talking, & that it would become the centerpiece of her life’s work.
And as far as that first waltz, well she & Jeff celebrated their 30th anniversary in love & life together, in May, 2018.
Barbara attended her first When the Drummers Were Women weekend with Layne Redmond at an Omega Institute winter session in northwest Connecticut, in March, 1993. She followed Layne’s evolving Priestess Frame Drumming Programs for 20 years, including hosting Layne & friends for a When the Drummers Were Women presentation, performance & workshop in August, 1997, at her own venue, The Space at The Rhythm Inlet, in Mt. Vernon, Maine. In 1998 Barbara was in Layne’s first Giving Birth to Ourselves 9-month training. Barbara & Jeff traveled with her on 3 percussionist pilgrimages — once to Egypt in 2001, & twice to Brasil — first in 2005 & again in 2008. Barbara continued following Layne’s work & teachings until her passing in October, 2013.
But First, There was the Dancer who Followed Gabrielle
Barbara was always moving. Once while a pre-schooler dining with her parents at a restaurant, she rose from her chair & began dancing. When asked what she was doing, she explained, “I’m dancing! Don’t you hear the music?” Childhood friends will remember all of her birthday parties included dancing to her favorite records.
During her college years her daily passions were dance technique & performance, & creative movement. These returned to & remained in her life locally throughout the 1990’s, while living in Central Maine. (Thank you, Nancy Dionne).
In 1991 she attended Rhythm Waves dance workshops with Chris Werner in Maine, immediately joining its founder, internationally acclaimed, shamanic dance-movement pioneer, Gabrielle Roth in the summer of 1992 at Omega Institute. She continued following Gabrielle around the country for 6 years with in-depth study. Inspired by her work with Gabrielle, Barbara facilitated weekly group rhythm wave classes & one-time workshops throughout Maine from 1993-2004, & occasionally in Florida from 2005-2010.
The Rhythm Inlet is Born…
Thanks to the inspiration & encouragement of these 2 remarkable women, Barbara dedicated herself to rhythm & movement.
And thanks to her remarkable husband, Jeff, who renovated, redesigned & rebuilt their barn in Mt. Vernon, Maine. It came to house their retail space Meridian Arts: Fair Trade Crafts of the World, & later The Rhythm Inlet, including their beautiful drum & dance space (with a heated, sprung floor) which they aptly named The Space. Here all sorts of classes & workshops for personal enrichment & creative expression were offered. In its first year of 1995, 16 instructors taught in The Space, & this is when & where Barbara launched her own menu of movement & rhythm programs.
The Rhythm Inlet music store quickly became a destination with its staggering array of world drums & percussion instruments. Barbara’s career as teacher, facilitator, performer, & school artist-in-resident took off, while Jeff maintained the property & expertly took care of customer & student needs for instruments & drum tuning & repair. Soon Jeff also began to teach, & together they created community-based programs, performances, classes & workshops, that for a decade took them throughout the state of Maine & beyond, to hundreds of venues. They also formed & directed various rhythm-based performance duos & troupes for both educational & festive settings.
A World of Drums
Having become specialists in & archivists of folkloric rhythmic music of the world, Barbara & Jeff have traveled abroad to study West-African-rooted Garifuna & Maroon Drumming in both Dangriga & Gales Point Manatee, Belize (2000); Arabic & Nubian frame drum techniques along the Nile River in Egypt (2001); & twice in Salvador, deBahia, Brasil for its infectious samba batucada drum troupes & the trancy rhythms of Condomblé (2005 & 2008).
Moonrise: Daughters of an Ancient Pulse
Inspired by her work with Layne Redmond, in 1999 Barbara created & directed the women’s frame drum troupe, Moonrise: Daughters of an Ancient Pulse. Under her instruction, this revolving-door group of 40+ women met weekly in The Space at The Rhythm Inlet in Mt. Vernon, Maine, bringing their beautiful drum processions to ceremonies & celebrations including concerts, performances, weddings, memorial services, festivals, seasonal gatherings, & more.
Since arriving in Florida in 2004, Barbara has enjoyed teaching & leading several smaller & short-lived incarnations of Moonrise, & frame drum & tambourine workshops for women.
Meanwhile, once Barbara picked up the djembe she kept it in her hands, never really stopping, & it’s been one of the cornerstones of her 25-year career. Along the way she’s added to her collection & repertoire more percussion instruments than she can count, thanks to world travels & co-owning a retail store dedicated to World Drums & Percussion!
Barbara’s performances as a multi-percussion accompanist & background vocalist include her own multi-media performance presentations, as well as accompaniment for drum & percussion ensembles, dance workshops, original folk bands, contemporary opera, modern instrumental & vocal compositions, kirtan, church & non-denominational choirs, High Holy-Days Jewish services, & an array of spiritual & worship ceremonies.
I Thank My Teachers, My Teachers’s Teachers, Teachers Before Them, & So On…
Barbara has continued to commit her adult life to learning from international pioneers in her varied yet related fields — always seeking the source of the work, the best of the best. The Late Great Layne Redmond — recording artist & author of When the Drummers Were Women — & theater director, recording artist & author of Maps to Ecstasy: Teachings of an Urban Shaman, as well as Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice — The Late Great Gabrielle Roth, were her 2 primary teachers. For them she followed across country, oceans & continents.
Her Other Teachers of Rhythm for Evolution
Originator of a profound body of work called Ta Ke Ti Na: The Power of Rhythm, author & recording artist Reinhard Flatischler has been a major influence in Barbara’s work, as has women’s empowerment through drumming expert & recording artist, Ubaka Hill.
From 1998 thru 2001, Drum Circle Facilitation masters Arthur Hull, Jimi & Morwen Two Feathers, & The Late Barry Bernstein, all gave her perhaps the greatest gift of all, what became the feature of her career — developing & conducting rhythm circle activities as creative & expressive group activities for people of all ages, abilities, & challenges, as recreation, education, & therapy.
Her Teachers of Movement for Evolution
From Ballet to Hatha Yoga to 5Rhythms™ to Authentic Movement to African Dance to Dance Rituals to Alexander Technique to Modern Dance, since 1981 Barbara’s explorations & training in the vast realms of dance forms & mindful movement have been far & wide.
Most recent teachers include 3 influential. Marianne Wells, founder of Marianne Wells Yoga School, & Haris Lender, founder of Kidding Around Yoga™, are both masters in training how to present & teach the physical & mental benefits of yoga. JourneyDance™ founder Toni Bergins, is a true pioneer in the newer forms of dance as personal & collective transformation.
In the 2-year span of 2012-13, Barbara received Teaching Certifications from those 3 remarkable women. With Toni Bergins she pursued & achieved 3 levels of Certification in JourneyDance™, & served as an Assistant in a Module 1 Teacher Training. She added 200-hour Yoga Certification with Marianne Wells, & became a Certified & Licensed Instructor of Kidding Around Yoga™ for children, attending 5 KAY trainings with 3 different instructors, for maximum benefit.
Shout Out to…
Other inspirational djembe & frame drum teachers & players who I’ve learned from &/or co-created music with over the decades. I owe deep gratitude to Gordy Ryan (who said, “This girl’s got it!”), Liz Derecktor, Judy Nielsen, Annegret Baier, Shirsten Lundblad, Tori Morrill, Randy Crafton, & Bob Bloom!
And to the musical creative geniuses in Maine & Florida with whom I collaborated in performance for years, & who trusted & stretched my percussion skills, especially Leah Wolfsong & Deborah Berioli! And to you, Faerie Elaine Silver, we’re just gettin’ started!
The Songs of Life: Ceremony & Celebration
A lifelong spiritual seeker, Barbara is inspired by her ancestry as a descendant of Kohain High Priests & Rabbis. She’s ordained by the Universal Life Church as Minister & Priestess, & leads drum, dance, & song in ceremonial & celebratory settings.
For 9 years she produced the successful Wild Women’s Boogie Bash in Maine, where women from the far reaches of the state traveled to halls, lodges, & gymnasiums, hungry to dance to her DJ’ing, & the drumbeats of Inanna: Sisters in Rhythm.
Candlelit Winter Solstice & Flowery Summer Solstice events, in collaboration with Circle Voice Singers Director, Leah Wolfsong, & Sacred Circle Dance Facilitator, Willow Whitehouse, began in 1995 in her Maine barn studio, The Space. For years they continued creating their festive & poignant seasonal ceremonies, evolving into much larger venue productions that included music & dance performances in 350-seat venues.
One of Barbara’s joys is to lead ceremonial & celebratory Winter & Summer Solstice Events on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, & Women, Rhythm & Ritual: New Moon & Full Moon Temples in Southwest Florida. She’s currently focusing on transformational workshops at festivals & women’s gatherings around the country. All of these events include the alchemy of rhythm, movement, & sound.
Inspired by having worked with Women With Wings & Circle Voice Singers — 2 active song circles in Maine that support personal empowerment & spiritual growth through singing — in 2012 Barbara launched (but soon retired) SpiralSong: Sing Yourself into YES!, a SongChant circle for women. Now that singing is returning to her life, she looks forward its rebirth.
Goin’ Where the Climate Suits our Clothes
In 2003 Barbara & Jeff found themselves leaving Maine during the winter months to live at Oscar Scherer State Park, teaching, selling, & performing in & around Sarasota County, Florida.
After doing that for 3 consecutive winters — extending their time in Florida each year — they realized how much they loved it.
So in October, 2005 they relocated to & opened The Rhythm Inlet in its current location in Nokomis, FL.
Orange You Grateful?
The ukulele knocked on their door in 2012… Rather, it knocked the door down!
Immediately The Rhythm Inlet presented ukulele sales, services, classes, & workshops. They began hosting house-filling Sing ‘n’ Strum Along Meetups & Open Mics with The Suncoast Sand Fleas, & memorable, intimate concerts & master classes with internationally recognized guest artists.
The ukulele has become 90% of The Rhythm Inlet’s retail, 90% of its event happenings, & 100% of Jeff’s teaching & repair services (& joy).
In 2017 they decided to call it what it is, shifting the name of their retail store & teaching studio to The Ukulele Place at The Rhythm Inlet!
Since 1993 Barbara’s had a blast enthusiastically leading thousands of people — ages 9 months to 99 years — in her dynamic programs & profound group experiences, bringing her to well-over 350 schools, libraries, camps, conferences, agencies, staff retreats, studios, festivals, temples, churches, assisted living homes, memory care facilities, centers & schools for special populations, private engagements, community events…
You name it, yeah, she’s probably done that, too.
Alchemist of Rhythm & Movement
Her varied & in-depth explorations have given her a comprehensive & always evolving understanding of the role of rhythm in our lives — as music, as movement, & as pure vibration — individually & collectively, in ceremony & in celebration.
In her personal time you’ll find her losing herself to find herself — in dance, yoga, nature, photography, travel, & the garden.
She believes, “The Garden is my greatest Teacher. Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in The Garden.”
Together, we are the Dreamer of our Dreams, the Seer of our Visions, the Summoner of our Conjuring, the Alchemist of our Formation. Our Journey calls forth our Past as our Teacher, our Future as our Inspiration, our Present as our Creation. Your Life is your Opus & your Dance, its Theme your HeartSong, its Expression your Embodiment, its Inspiration your Breath. You are an Evolution, a Becoming. Always & forever. Together, we Seek our Truth.
~ Barbara Gail
Study rhythm. Rhythm supports life.
~ Rudolf Steiner, 1923: Austrian Philosopher, Social Reformer, Architect & Esotericist
I am seeking a far off point from which creation flows, where I suspect there is a formula for man, beast, plant, earth, fire, water, air & all circling forces at once.
~ Paul Klee: German Swiss Painter
I had a dream & I heard music & there were children standing around, but no one was dancing. I asked a little girl, “Why not?”, & she said they didn’t know how, or maybe they used to but they forgot. And so I started to hop up & down & the children asked me, “Is that dancing?, & I laughed & said, “No, that’s hopping, but at least it’s a start”. And soon everyone was hopping & laughing & it didn’t matter any more that no one was dancing.
~ Brian Andreas, 1994: American Artist & Storyteller
This organizing force… is rhythm. It is the most perceptible & the least material thing. Even in the nightly drumming, it is not a purely aesthetic manifestation, but brings its faithful into communion, more intimately, to the rhythm of the community which dances, of the World which dances.
~ Léopold Sédar Senghor: Senegalese poet, cultural theorist, & first president of Senegal (1960–1980). Regarded as one of the most important 20th century African intellectuals.